View Full Version : hardware....

Bob Stark
05-03-2007, 03:49 PM
Okay all you seasoned professional inspectors out there.... what's the skinny on the best hardware out there for home inspectors?

Digital Cameras
Electronic data gathering

What do you all use/recommend/wish you had !? Kind of have my eye on some things, but due to sheer numbers of different products available, I just as soon hear from you guys/gals in the field. What has been field tested and to your liking?

Thanks in advance for any and all tips and suggestions.
Bob :)

Gunnar Alquist
05-03-2007, 03:54 PM

You waive it at the property and it analyzes, documents and spits out a comprehensive report that... Oh wait, that's in my dreams.

Never mind.

Bob Stark
05-03-2007, 04:04 PM
I used to use a tricorder but can no longer find the photon batteries for it !
You are waaayyyy too funny ! Thanks though... I could use the chuckle today! :D

Rick Cantrell
05-03-2007, 04:29 PM
"What do you all use/recommend/wish you had !? Kind of have my eye on some things, but due to sheer numbers of different products available, I just as soon hear from you guys/gals in the field. What has been field tested and to your liking?"

#1 A wife that WANTS to support you for the next 2 years while you get a client base.
#2 A digital camera 4-6 meg with a good optical zoom and macro (photo of data plates), but don't spend much money, you will drop it.
#3 A Voice recorder, use in attics and crawl when you can't write notes.
#4 Muti meter, GFCI tester, Infrared thermometer, Stick thermometer,
#5 Misc hand tools: Water key, Small med and large screwdrivers, An awl (to Poke holes in EFIS) to probe for rotten wood
#6 Coveralls, gloves, and knee pads
#7 Folding ladder, Small step ladder
#8 Some money in the bank, you don't want to ask your wife for beer and cigarette money for the next 2 years do you?

Jim Luttrall
05-03-2007, 04:35 PM
Convertible screw driver. I wore out a Craftsman and then found an even better one at Lowe's with large and small Phillips, flat blade and the handle flip shaft has 1/4 and 5/16 hex. One tool that will open almost any access panel and no parts to loose or rattle around in the handle.

Bob Stark
05-03-2007, 04:47 PM
Thanks guys.
Rick, I understand about a camera's zoom, megs and so on.... digital cameras use memory cards (as I'm sure you know). What exactly are you referring to in a photo/data plate (If I've said that correctly)? The card I'm eyeing will store 512 photos at low res, and about 80 photos at high resolution. Am I on the right track here? ;)

Rick Cantrell
05-03-2007, 05:01 PM
You know what zoom is, well macro is up close. Close enough to take pictures of the A/C, water heater, etc... data plate. You don't need to write every thing down.

I always take Hi res photos.
As long as you carry extra memory cards, 80 per card in OK.

Also I forgot something on the list
#9 Spare camera, you will drop the other one.
#10 Pocket flashlight, the bulb or batteries in your big flashlight only goes out when your in a dark place.

wayne soper
05-03-2007, 05:09 PM
I just bought a Lumix, Panasonic 7 mega pix with 10x optical zoom. Real cool but the real deal is it will zoom to 50x digital. You can spot an ant on the top of the chimney if you hold the camera still enough, after typing till 11 pm with a few scotch's that's not in the cards in the AM but real good camera. DMC-tz3 about 300.00
Got it at Costco

Gunnar Alquist
05-03-2007, 05:16 PM

I had a good laugh with your "photon battery" come-back.

In addition to the camera, get the longest extended warranty you can find and make sure it has accidental damage coverage. It will come in handy.

I find that I take anywhere between 50 and 100 (low res) pics on any given (typical) house. More if it needs a lot of work. I prefer using a camera that accepts a removable SD card so I can still download the pics after I drop and kill the camera. I also finally bought a cheap back-up camera that accepts the same card so I can continue the inspection after I pick up the pieces of my primary camera.

I have used the screwdriver that Jim recommended for years. Just lost it the other day. :( I used a "yankee" screwdriver for years, but am unable to get replacement bits. I'm bummed because I really liked the yankee.

I have also seen screwdrivers that have torx and security torx bits that store in the handle in addition to the standard phillips, slotted and square drive bits. I have yet to pick one up, though.

I disagree with Rick on the voice recorder and folding ladder. I use an aluminum extension. The folding ladders are just too darned heavy for my taste and I cannot stand folding/unfolding them. Instead of a voice recorder, I take pics and they jog my memory just fine.

I think that Rick is referring to photographing data/information plates on furnaces, water heaters, etc.

I also have clean shoes (slip-on) so I don't track mud into people's homes. Some people like the plastic things that go on over the boots.

Bob Stark
05-03-2007, 06:17 PM
Water heater, etc.... data plate.... got it ! :rolleyes:

Do you all drink while performing inspections?!! :D Just kidding, but the reason I DO kid about that, is that it seems like everyone on this site drops cameras continually ! :eek: Here's another interesting point: First, you guys have been a huge help and I do appreciate it! But, secondly, my original question on this thread concerned the hardware. Other than cameras, does anyone use "point-and-click" technology for report writing? If so, what is the best stuff to use, in your estimation. Cost vs. effeciency, ease of use and so on. Are there websites currently set up to input data, both narrative and photographic, for purposes of actually completing an inspeciton report ?


special note: It is IMPOSSIBLE to over-charge photon batteries !!

Rick Hurst
05-03-2007, 06:31 PM
I use an insta-matic camera.

After the inspection, I drop off the film at the local drugstore and pick it up several days later.

During that time I do the report. After several days I go pick up the photos (only if I have a coupon) and then rush back to the office.

I use that sticky glue pen and stick them right on the back side of the report pages where needed.

Then I place them in a big envelope for the USPS to pick up. Sometime I write RUSH in red ink on it so they will think its important and get it to my customer within the next several days.

Someday I'm going to breakdown and buy one of those Polaroids.

Tim Moreira
05-03-2007, 09:34 PM
Now, Now Rick...

Bob Stark
05-04-2007, 04:05 AM
DARN !!! Got everything EXCEPT the sticky glue thingy !

Jerry Peck
05-04-2007, 06:47 AM
special note: It is IMPOSSIBLE to over-charge photon batteries !!

Mine must be defective, they NEVER hold a charge.

Do you insert them into the plasma mass charger with the 'Q' end in first, or does that let the photons leak out? My high mass density localizer alarm turns bright purple, the manual says that radiation color indicates 23 minutes to live.

Bob Stark
05-04-2007, 06:53 AM
Yes, "Q" end first. CORRECT.

Bright purple. CORRECT.

23 minutes to live. CORRECT.

How do you feel?

How do you feel?


Gunnar Alquist
05-04-2007, 12:32 PM

I use a PDA with 3D Report. I don't know if it really saves time, but it is what I do and the finished product looks really good. The time saver comes with using as many standard paragraphs that you can for common situations and "massaging" them to fit the specific need.

I know some inspectors that only make limited notes regarding type, make and things that cannot be photographed, and then take loads of pics to remind them of what they saw. I would think that would save time at the inspection, but increase time writing the report.

Also, I don't always drop the cameras. I might do that once or twice a year. The cameras often just wear out. I figure that I take 25,000 to 30,000 pics each year. That is a lot of work for these little cameras.

Thom Walker
05-04-2007, 02:22 PM
1. If you wear glasses put an extra pair in the truck... Extra shoes and a change of clothes... extra undies for the Hallmark moment you're bound to have.... extra batteries and a charger for whatever cordless stuff you carry.

2. A practical tool belt. You don't want to have to go back to your bag for everything. At the same time you don't want to spend one day a week at the Chiropractor from wearing a 50 pound belt all day.

3. E-Tools for general inspections I wouldn't want to be without.... Greenlee DVC-6.... Good multimeter.... Good carbon monoxide detector.... Tif 8800 or better gas detector .... Protimeter Survey Master.... a good quality cordless drill (some guys prefer a screwdriver)....

4. Re camera choice: as sturdy looking as you can find and make sure it doesn't require anything proprietary. No less than 10X optical zoom. Don't get sucked into the digital zoom number. Make sure it's small enough to carry, but big enough to handle comfortably. I currently use the Kodak Z7590 and like it. I've never needed hi res for a job. USE THE LENS COVER between shots, whatever you buy. I have a 2 gig memory card. They're cheap.

5. An assortment of ladders. A first aid kit.

Rick Hurst
05-04-2007, 03:01 PM
And the ever important tool of all.

A roll of TP behind the rear seat of your truck. Just in case!

Thom Walker
05-04-2007, 03:31 PM
I tried that, but the holder kept falling off. And using that area really made my truck stink. :D

Bob Stark
05-04-2007, 03:57 PM
Personally, I use the Sony PV3000 Poop Vaporizer. Makes cleanup a breeze. As for the truck, I always try to use someone else's vehicle for the, um, accidents.:rolleyes: